It’s hard to believe that this British punk band – who was once a teenage garage experiment — turned to the guise of a darker follow-up to their previous album, Favourite Worst Nightmare. Undeniably, Arctic Monkeys seeped into a heavier style that is much of an extension from frontman Alex Turner’s side project, The Last Shadow Puppets.
Dripping with melodic elocution and Black Sabbath-esque inspiration, Monkeys shows depth in their latest release. Marking the quartet‘s third album, Humbug concedes into a culmination of colliding rhythms and melodies riffed with Turner’s lyrical ingenuity. Monkeys‘ identity has traveled far from their first release of Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and has Humbug brooding with stews of aggression, sexual undertone and allure.
Though the mellow tempo and Turner’s deep hushed voice in the first song of the 10-track album (a small amount for the band), “My Propeller” makes for a purposeful transition from Monkeys‘ latter albums. Co-producer Josh Homme (Queens of The Stone Age) has them singing a slightly different tune than what we are all used to.
Upon further listening, Homme’s influence on the production of Humbug is even more evident in songs like “Secret Door” and “Dangerous Animals” – taking Arctic Monkeys into a direction that is portentous and too polished. Though Humbug is hands down one of the best albums of the year, it misses the raw musicality and energy from the once teenage band that Monkeys used to be.
Despite the different sound that permeates throughout the album, Humbug is nevertheless Monkeys‘ best and most mature album to date. Humbug’s orchestration of minor progressions from guitarist Jamie Cook and bass guitarist Nick O’Malley creates a haunting muse for Alex Turner’s dark and poetic lyrics.
Give these tracks a listen: “Cornerstone,” “Dance Little Liar“
For fans of: Friendly Fires, Franz Ferdinand
– Karen Song